The capacity of the soil to allow the loads coming from the foundation is called bearing capacity of the soil. The gross pressure at the base of the foundation at which soil fails is called ultimate bearing capacity. By considering different failure conditions, the ultimate bearing capacity is divided by certain factor of safety and the resultant is called safe bearing capacity of the soil.

It is essential to know the bearing capacity of the soil before designing the foundation. It can be determined by different field tests. However, there are standard safe bearing capacity values available for different types of soils and these values can be used where test data is limited or speedy construction is required.

Safe Bearing Capacity values of Different Soils

Following table gives you the values of safe bearing capacity of different types of soils.

S.No Type of Soil Safe Bearing Capacity ( kN/m2)
Cohesive Soils  
1. Soft shale, hard or stiff clay in a deep bed, dry state 440
2. Medium clay readily indented with a thumbnail 245
3. Moist clay and Sand clay mixture which can be indented by thumb pressure 150
4. Black cotton soil/expansive clay ( 50% saturated) in dry state 130 to 160
5. Soft clay indented with moderate thumb pressure 100
6. Very soft clay which can be penetrated with the thump up to few centimetres 50
Cohesionless Soil  
7. Compact gravel/sand and gravel mixture with good resistance against penetration of tools 440
8. Compact and dry coarse sand 440
9. Compact and dry medium sand 245
10. Loose gravel or sandy gravel mixture, dry state 245
11. Fine sand and silt ( consists of dry lumps) 150
12. Loose and dry fine sand 100
13. Hard rocks such as granite trap, diorite etc. 3240
14. Laminated rocks such as sandstone, limestone, etc. 1620
15. Residual deposits of shattered and broken bedrock and hard shale, cemented material 880
16. Soft rocks 440

Also Read: Bearing Capacity of Soil – Types and Calculations